August 18, 2011--EPA gets poor grade on keeping drinking water clean (High Country News)

The Environmental Protection Agency was recently reprimanded for its regulation of drinking water and the selection process it uses to select candidates for contaminant regulation. On the bright side, the agency is trying to ensure rural water systems pass muster. The Government Accountability Office just gave EPA officials a scolding for their inabilityto assess which communities aren't keeping their drinking water clean. A July 19 GAO report says the federal agency can't identify municipalities with the most serious compliance problems when it comes to drinking water violations. Polluted drinking water is no small problem: The GAO report states there are 4.3 to 11.7 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness each year due to contaminated drinking water.  And exposure to contaminants like arsenic in drinking water over time can increase risk of cancer in addition to skin issues and circulatory problems. It's not all the EPA's fault—the report says states underreport health and monitoring violations, making it difficult for the agency to determine where enforcement of water quality laws needs to take place.

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